To prevent getting a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, always avoid sex with anyone who has genital sores, a rash, discharge, or other symptoms. The only time unprotected sex is safe is if you and your partner have sex only with each other, and if it’s been at least six months since you each tested negative for STDs.
Otherwise you should:
Protect Yourself and Your Sexual Partners.
The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens ages 11 or 12 (or can start at age 9) and everyone through age 26, if not vaccinated already. Vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit as more people have already been exposed to HPV. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.
Reduce Number of Sex Partners
Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.
Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. But it is important to note that these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STD prevention.
- Avoid sharing towels or underclothing.
- Wash before and after intercourse.
- Get tested for HIV.
- If you have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse, get help. People who are drunk or on drugs often fail to have safe sex.
It was once thought that using condoms with nonoxynol-9 helped to prevent STDs by killing the organisms that can cause disease. New research shows that doing so also irritates a woman’s vagina and cervix and may increase the risk of an STD infection. Current recommendations are to avoid using condoms with nonoxynol-9.
How Can I Prevent Spreading an STD?
To prevent giving an STD to someone else:
- Stop having sex until you see a doctor and are treated.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment.
- Use condoms whenever you have sex, especially with new partners.
- Don’t resume having sex unless your doctor says it’s OK.
- Return to your doctor to get rechecked.
- Be sure your sex partner or partners also are treated.